POTW, Kelly Long, Autism Society of the Mahoning Valley

POTW, Kelly Long, Autism Society of the Mahoning Valley

Name: Kelly Long
Organization: Autism Society of the Mahoning Valley
Bio: I am a Parent Advocate. I advocate for services and accommodations for special needs children in the school systems.

What first inspired you to become involved in the community?

What do you enjoy most about volunteering in our community?

What type of volunteer work are you or have you been involved in within your community?
I was one of the original board members of the Walnut Grove All Inclusive Special Needs Playground until I had to step back for medical reasons. I am on the Board of Directors for the Autism Society of the Mahoning Valley. 

What advice would you give anyone to give back to our communities?
I would advise anyone to look into the heart of our community. I’ve encountered so many kind generous people in our community who willingly helped our nonprofits just because they were asked. We had people donate tons of concrete, materials, and labor for the Walnut Grove playground just because someone reached out. We have alot of good people in our community.

What song best describes you or is the soundtrack to your life?
Survivor by Destinys Child

What is your vision for the future of our community?
I hope to see the full vision of the Walnut Grove come to fruition. I hope to see a track, football field, and baseball field there someday. I hope to see expanded programming for the Autism Society. I hope to see Vocational training programs for young adults with Autism and a more encompassing umbrella of resources to fit every need of those affected with Autism in our community.

What is your best accomplishment/experience in life?
This is an easy one. Watching my twin daughters grow to adulthood. My girls were born 3 months premature weighing 2 lbs a piece. My daughter Kamryn had a stroke shortly after birth. Her twin Reygan, had the first of several brain surgeries for a neurological condition called Dandy-Walker syndrome. Reygan is actually missing ⅓ of her brain and has a VP shunt and hydrocephalus.I was told by seven specialists that neither of my girls would ever walk or talk. I was told Reygan would be a vegetable and Kamryn would likely be paralyzed. But we had other plans. We did intensive physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and social skills groups 4 days a week, 3 hours a day from the time they were 15 months old until they were 10. Both girls have Autism. But today they’re competing in special needs cheerleading with Dana Winters, Kamryn played school volleyball for Canfield, and both girls ran track for Canfield. Kamryn was able to advance from our special needs squad to a typical senior level squad. Both girls far exceeded expectations for them and have forged their own path in the world and I couldnt be more proud of them.

Who is your role model and Why?
My role model is my mother, Vicky McConnachie. When I was 12 years old I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. My mother never let me use my disease as a crutch. She taught me that my diabetes doesnt define me and to continue on despite my diabetes. She’s been strong for me and been my rock through my kidney failure as my disease progresses. Ill be starting kidney dialysis soon and will be needing a kidney transplant in the months ahead. But I still work hard no matter how I feel just as she taught me.

If there was one person that you would like to meet, past or present and why?
I would LOVE to meet Temple Grandin. Shes not only a scientist and animal behaviorist but she is a spokesperson for people with Autism. I could talk to her for hours picking her brain about Autism and incorporating a better way to understand those with Autism.

A favorite quote that you live by?
It is what it is.

Check out our #ASQuoteoftheWeek & #ASQuoteoftheDay 2021

Check out our #ASQuoteoftheWeek & #ASQuoteoftheDay 2021

Check out our #ASQuoteoftheWeek & #ASQuoteoftheDay 2021

The #SpannintheNeed shares inspirational quotes of the week and day to help motivate individuals or groups in our communities. Sometimes all it takes is a few positive quotes or words of encouragement to immediately turn someone’s day around. Whether its your lifelong best friend or a stranger you pass on the street, taking a moment to deliver a positive message can have a long-lasting effect on the well-being of both individuals.

October 19
Never judge a book by its cover.

October 12
You are never too old to set another GOAL or to dream another DREAM. CS Lewis

October 5
We are so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take the time to enjoy where we are.

September 27
All kids need a little help, a little HOPE and somebody who believes in them. – Magic Johnson #asquoteoftheday #aspersonoftheweek

September 21
You go this way in life only once, don’t waste the trip.

June 8
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. #asquoteoftheday #aspersonoftheweek

June 4
The Strongest People aren’t always the one who WIN, but the people who don’t give up when they lose! #asquoteoftheday

June 3
Start everyday with a new hope. Leave bad memories behind and have faith for a better tomorrow. #asquoteoftheday

June 2
As time goes on, you’ll understand. What lasts, lasts; what doesn’t, doesn’t. Time solves most things. And what time can’t solve, you have to solve yourself. – Haruki Murakami #asquoteoftheday

June 1
Obstacles can’t stop you. Problems can’t stop you. People can’t stop you. Only YOU can stop you. #asquoteoftheday

May 28
Just go with the flow. #asquoteoftheday

May 27
The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you. #asquoteoftheday

May 26
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. – Maya Angelou #asquoteoftheday

May 25
Make your own kind of happiness. #asquoteoftheday

May 24
Someone once said, it’s not what you did in the past, but what you can do to correct your life and make the lives around you better in some little way! #asquoteoftheday

May 21
If you feel like you’re losing everything, remember that trees lose their leaves every year and they still stand tall and wait for better days to come. #asquoteoftheday

May 20
It’s like anything in life, visualizing the old man you’re going to become: As long as you have a clear picture of that – the life you want to lead – eventually you’ll probably get there. – Heath Ledger #asquoteoftheday

May 19
I know I can do this. #asquoteoftheday

May 18
I think you should be serious about what you do because this is it. This Is the only life you’ve got. – Philip Seymour Hoffman #asquoteoftheday

May 17
The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. – Lucille Ball #asquoteoftheday

May 14
My story isn’t pleasant, it’s not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves. – Herman Hesse #asquoteoftheday

May 13
A happy life includes finding joy in small things, doing less and observing more. #asquoteoftheday

May 12
Do nice things for people who will never find out it was you! #asquoteoftheday

May 11
Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again. – Anne Frank #asquoteoftheday

May 10
We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Mohandas Gandhi. #asquoteoftheday

May 9
My mother shed her protective love down around me and without knowing why people sensed that I had value. – Maya Angelou #asquoteoftheday

May 5
Be strong, but not rude. Be kind but not weak. Be humble but not timid. Be proud but not arrogant. #asquoteoftheday

May 3
To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself! -Thich Nhat Hanh #asquoteoftheday

SAOTW, Ava Valko-Boardman Spartans

SAOTW, Ava Valko-Boardman Spartans

Each week, the #SpanningtheNeed podcast will present an “Inspirational Student Athlete of the Week and have a “Q & A” with one of its many gifted individuals and/or groups who are willing to go out of their own way to help others and/or student-athletes who display distinction, dedication, and perseverance in the classroom. This week’s featured is a student athlete player and is Ava Valko from Boardman Spartans. Nominate someone now.

Name: Ava Valko
School: Boardman High School
Girls Varsity Tennis (first singles)
GPA: 4.0

What are your plans after graduation?
My plans after graduation are to attend college and then eventually go to medical school.

What is your favorite class?
My favorite class is science/ biology.

What do you enjoy most about playing this sport?
The thing that I most enjoy about tennis is that each point is a chance to start over. If you have a bad point, you are able to just reset yourself and start again.

What type of volunteer work are you involved in within your community?
There are many clubs in school that I am involved in that provide us with volunteer activities; however, due to COVID, many personal volunteer activities that I was once involved in are suspended. I used to work with kids through a United Way afterschool program and taught them tennis, as well as leadership and teamwork skills.

Why is the most memorable moment in your scholastic career?
The most memorable moment in my scholastic career would have to be the dissections in my anatomy and physiology class.

What is your favorite sports related movie?
I don’t have a favorite sports related movie, however, I really enjoyed the series that Netflix created with Naomi Osaka.

Who has the best nickname on the team and what is it?
The best nickname on the team definitely belongs to one of my best friends Mia Hammerton- her nickname is “shakes”.

Who is your role model?
In daily life, my role model is definitely my mother. Looking at this question through an athletic lens, my role model is my private coach Pam Steinhauser.

What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is either any type of pasta or hibachi.

What song best describes you or is the soundtrack to your life?
Either Ever Since New York or Only Angel by Harry Styles. Any song by Harry would be in the soundtrack of my life. He is one of my absolute favorite artists.

Are you looking to continue you’re playing career in college?
After much consideration and debate, I have decided not to continue my playing career in college. I’m sure if I change my mind, there are other leagues I can join in order to get back on the court.

Do you have a field of study already chosen when you go to college? Why that field?
Yes, in college I am planning on following a pre-med track. I chose this field because I’ve wanted to be a doctor ever since I was little. My mother has also inspired me with her career as a pathologist. Although I’m not sure of a specialty, I’m sure I would love anything in that field.

What team do you most enthusiastically root for? (any sport)
Honestly, I don’t keep up with too many sports teams, but Rafael Nadal is a huge inspiration for my tennis game. I admire his hardwork and effort.

A favorite quote by which you live.
“We are so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take the time to enjoy where we are”.

Foundation Delivers School Supplies to 15 School Districts in the Valley

Foundation Delivers School Supplies to 15 School Districts in the Valley

(Youngstown, Ohio) – The Anthony V. Spano Foundation had the opportunity to deliver thousands of school supplies to 15 school districts these past two weeks. Because of the anonymous donation received earlier this year, in the amount of $27,000, the Anthony V. Spano Foundation with the help of Diagnostics Direct, Inc. was able to deliver 15 pallets of much-needed schools supplies to the following school districts in Ohio: Minerva Local, Lisbon Exempted Village School, East Liverpool, East Palestine, Hubbard, Crestwood, Mathews, Champion, Howland, United, Boardman, Niles, Garfield, Heartland Christian, and Wellsville.

Kristine Frank, a 2nd-grade teacher at Hubbard Elementary stated “students in K-4 will now be able to get much-needed supplies.”

“This funding was a wonderful gift because not only did it serve our students, there were items for the teachers. There were so many supplies, for K-12, that the students and teachers appreciated,” stated Melissa Kemats, School Counselor for Lisbon Exempted Village Schools.

Kim Davis, Intervention Specialist at Minerva High School said, “we received school supplies to help those in grades 9-12 who couldn’t afford to purchase supplies.”

The Fund was established by the Spano Foundation of Youngstown, Ohio, in 2016 to help primary and secondary school teachers, students, and communities to help purchase much-needed classroom supplies for their underprivileged students.

You can also be part of stimulating the imaginations of our area youth by donating to the School Supplies Fund.  You can Donate Now at SpanoFoundation.com and all donations are greatly appreciated.

See some of the pictures from the deliveries to these schools. (Click here)


Oktoberfest back at Boardman Park this October 3

Oktoberfest back at Boardman Park this October 3

The Boardman Rotary Club will hold its 45th Oktoberfest on Sun., Oct. 3 in Boardman Park. The event, first held in 1976, is an outgrowth of Boardman Township’s Bicentennial Celebration and was first held as a ‘Community Day’ to promote fellowship in Boardman Township.

Today, the Oktoberfest has grown into the area’s largest one day arts and crafts event, drawing vendors from five states. Visitors to this annual fall celebration also come from neighboring states and often arrive by the bus load.

This year Oktoberfest will cling to its roots and again present a one day art, craft and entertainment event. The Oktoberfest is the largest single raiser of the Rotary Club of Boardman that uses the proceeds to support programs and efforts throughout the local area. International needs are also addressed when the Rotary Club of Boardman partners with other groups around the globe.

Gates will open to the public on Oct. 3 at 9:00 a.m. and admission is $5/person. The event wraps-up at 5:00 p.m.